And they’re off!
Nigel Hageness started his final season as a Panther in familiar fashion. The 2012 Class B champion in both the 100- and 200-meter dashes is ready to put an injury-hampered 2013 behind him.
Hageness won the 60-meter dash and took second in the 200 at the Class B state indoor track and field meet March 29 at North Dakota State University in Fargo.
The future Bison sprinter was the lone Panther to win an event in the outdoor season tune-up, which featured 24 girls teams and 16 boys teams. RHS took second in the boys meet with 64 points behind Kindred’s 79. The RHS girls took third with 59 points, three behind Kindred and four behind champion Carrington.
“We talked as coaches being more than what we expected,” boys coach Scott Grochow said. “They did some really good things, boys and girls. For the amount of time we’ve had to train, especially in some of the field areas, I was impressed.”
Hageness, who struggled with hamstring issues last year, got some early work on his start with the 60-meter race, which isn’t part of the outdoor lineup. He covered the short distance in 7.18 seconds to beat out Carrington junior Seth Abaurrea, who finished in 7.24.
Hageness fell one-hundredth of a second behind Killdeer junior Lucas Dobitz, the 200 winner in 23.62 seconds.
“It was the first meet and I just didn’t want to get injured,” said Hageness, whose nagging injuries began at the NDSU-hosted meet when he was a freshman. “I wasn’t really going 110 percent. I’d just like to go harder (each week) at this point and keep improving.”
RHS junior Nolan Hovland also turned in strong performances with a second-place mark of 6 feet in the high jump and a fourth-place finish in the 60 hurdles at 9.77 seconds.
“I think I did really well for my first meet,” Hovland said. “It’s pretty exciting, especially because it was better than how I did last year. I got a little stronger and part of it was playing basketball and being in shape.”
Junior Tanner Bernhardt took second in the long jump with a mark of 20 feet, five inches. Classmate Brad Heidlebaugh was third in the triple jump with a mark of 41 feet, 11 inches, and posted the team’s best throw of the day with a shot put heave of 43 feet, 8 inches – good for sixth place. The boys took fourth in the 800-meter relay.
“You’re looking for a certain amount of improvement and did we learn anything,” Grochow said.
The Panthers got a look at some other teams in a second indoor meet held Friday at Minot State University.
For RHS girls coach Bill Jansen, the highlight of the opening meet was getting to see the three Stier sisters share a relay. RHS senior Hannah Christenson ran the opening leg of the 1600 relay before the sisters followed in age order: Anni (seventh), Sara (eighth) and Emily (junior).
“That’s not easy,” Jansen said, “but it kind of meant a lot to get all those sisters in the same event.”?Emily Stier said it was really fun to add Anni to the fold after first getting to run with Sara last year.
“It’s always an interesting experience getting to compete with your sisters,” Emily said. “I was trying to prepare myself and watch my sisters. It was emotional.”
The team finished in third place, as Christenson ran the fastest 400-meter split of the relay in 1:04.98. Relays proved a strong point for the Panthers, as they took third in the 800 and second in the 3200. Eighth-grader Tristin Lunde ran the fastest split in the 3200 relay at 2:38.18 to make up ground as anchor for teammates Emily Salwey, Allison Foster and Bailey Nelson.
“Our kids I expected to do well did well and I had some younger kids do well, and there’s some excitement there,” Jansen said. “A lot of our younger kids have never been to a track meet. It settles you down a little bit when you’ve been through it once.”?Junior jumper Jessica Blessum led the Panthers’ individual events, finishing third in the high jump (4-09) and pole vault (8-00). Foster, a junior, was fourth in the 3200 run. Lunde was fourth in the 800, and Christenson took fourth in the 400.
“I think I did pretty good for my first meet,” Christenson said. “I didn’t have many goals going in. I just wanted to get rid of the nerves. For me, I just got to start faster and then try to stay consistent in the race. In indoor, I usually start slow because it’s more laps and I know I can’t do that.”